LETTER FROM…Udaipur

The author in India’s most romantic city. Story by Jordan Porter, a Toronto fashion writer, who is on a year-long trip around the world.

After a whirlwind tour of India’s crowded Kolkata streets, Pink City in Jaipur, the Taj Mahal in Agra, and everything in between, I was short-circuiting from a complete sensory overload. So I headed, quite literally, for the hills. Nestled in the Aravalli Mountain ranges in the state of Rajasthan, I took shelter in Udaipur for a much-needed escape.

Touted as the “Venice of the East,” Udaipur sits on the shores of Lake Pichola, and is India’s most romantic city. Unfortunately the lake was begging for monsoon season during my stay and resembled more of a pond, but nonetheless the romance, beauty, and the regal Rajasthani style were abundant.

Strolls down the narrow crooked lanes revealed tiny jewellery shops stocked to the ceiling with beautiful bangles and women wrapped in saris of bright fuchsia, lemon yellow, and turquoise.

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LETTER FROM…Edinburgh

Story and photography by Charlotte Herrold, a Toronto writer who is pursuing a Masters degree in creative writing at the University of Edinburgh.

I’ve got to hand it to girls in Edinburgh—they are dedicated to their footwear. Despite the rain, the steeply sloping streets, deep grooves between cobblestones, and all kinds of obstacles (the etiquette to pick up after one’s dog doesn’t seem to exist in certain parts of the city . . .), women young and old are still wearing sky-high, razor-sharp heels and actually managing to walk in them.

And it’s not as if they’re hopping from door to cab to door—the way to get around Edinburgh is by (well-dressed) foot. A native Torontonian, I’m used to being able to stick out my arm and hail a cab on any street corner, but such isn’t the case here in Auld Reekie (and by the way, that’s Scots for Old Smoky, not Old Smelly!). If it’s not a pre-hire, it’s not happening, especially late on a Saturday night. So when I’m getting dressed for an evening out, I ask myself: “If I can’t get a cab home, am I going to be able to make it back in these shoes?” or “Will I be warm enough in this cropped jacket if I have to walk across town in the rain?”

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LETTER FROM…The Taj Mahal

The Eiffel Tower. (Just kidding.) Story and photography by Jordan Porter, a Toronto fashion writer who is on a year-long trip around the world.

Nobody likes a womanizer, but in Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s case, considering it was the 15th century and all, and he did build the palace of all palaces for his one true lady love, I’ll let his famously wandering ways slide.

You can’t come to India and not see the Taj right? So the BF and I boarded a train and made the five-hour journey (and if you’ve ever been to India you’ll know that a train that’s supposed to take five hours takes at least seven) to Agra, home of the UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the seven man-made wonders of the world.

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STYLE MAP: My Favourite Dresses

Story by Justine Iaboni. Photography by Joseph Vocics.

My Favourite Dresses (634 Yonge St., 2nd floor, 416-944-9207, myfavouritedresses.com)

Guess what? Just a few blocks south of Yonge and Bloor—otherwise known as Toronto’s high-end shopping mecca—you can snag a Chanel bag for a fraction of the price, or shamelessly pimp out your prized designer items to repair some of the financial damage previously incurred on Bloor.

For the sake of honest journalism, I chose to do the latter on my first visit to My Favourite Dresses, the consignment/rental boutique recently opened by jewellery designer and stylist Trisha Mishich and fashion designer Salem Moussallam. With a gold leather Gucci belt in hand, I climbed the staircase beside a shady, all-Lycra dress shop and ascended to a private showroom that looked like it could have been Christian Dior’s bedroom on the Right Bank—the pretty Dior bags on display and sparkling chandelier adding to my Parisian vision.

Although there are a few Louis Vuittons, a couple Chanels, Balenciaga, Gucci, Prada and Dior bags to rent à la Jennifer Hudson (or to buy à la Carrie Bradshaw) the main attraction here are the dresses.

From extravagant Lafée gowns with all the trimmings for a night at the opera to the Brose crystalline mini tube dress for a night on the dance floor, My Favourite Dresses is a one-stop shop when it comes to compiling a killer outfit for any occasion. I’m especially in love with the Hervé Léger electric coral and black striped mini-dress and the double-lined jersey cocktail dresses by Joeffer Caoc in lime green, lilac, navy and white. At just $50 to $100 dollars per rental, why would anyone ever choose to be caught dead wearing the same dress twice?

Salem shares the sentiment. He tells The Style Notebook why.

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LETTER FROM…Kanchanaburi

All aboard the elephants in Kanchanaburi. Story by Jordan Porter, a Toronto fashion writer who is on a year-long trip around the world.

In a desperate attempt to flee the civil war zone in Bangkok, my boyfriend and I hopped on a packed-to-the-brim $3 minibus bound for Kanchanaburi, a small town two hours northwest of Bangkok, and the home of the famous Bridge on the River Kwai.

It’s a beautiful town surrounded by lush mountains and rushing waterfalls, but the style scene, apart from a handful of well-dressed lady boys, is undoubtedly all about the Tevas and Ts—definitely less than desirable for a girl who was looking forward to exercising her AmEx in the big city. To soothe my shopping woes I figured I could at least take a ride in style, so I signed up for an afternoon atop an elephant at the Taweechai Elephant Camp.

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LETTER FROM…Edinburgh

The Bar Missoni in Edinburgh. Story by Charlotte Herrold, a Toronto writer who is pursuing a Masters degree in creative writing at the University of Edinburgh.

It’s spring in Edinburgh. The days are getting longer, trees are blooming in pink and white flowers, and the parks are a sea of vibrant daffodils. The shops on Princes Street are stocked with flirty floral frocks, elegant linen blazers, and sexy summer sandals. Restaurants have set up their patios and switched to summer menus. There’s just one thing missing—the warm weather.

With daily highs rarely climbing past 10 degrees and lows hovering just above zero, it certainly doesn’t feel like spring. And after a record-breaking cold winter, I’m craving some balmy weather. But impending deadlines and post-eruption volcanic hiccups mean a weekend jaunt to somewhere sunny will have to wait. In the meantime, there’s always the next best thing: a sip of Italian luxury at the Bar Missoni.

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LETTER FROM…Chiang Mai

The Chedi, a chic restaurant in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Story by Jordan Porter, a Toronto fashion writer who is on a year-long trip around the world.

As part of my boyfriend’s recent birthday extravaganza I had the pleasure of spending an indulgent evening at The Chedi, Chiang Mai. Owned by the super luxe GHM group of hotels, the resort offers a sleek yet cozy respite from the hustle and bustle of Thailand’s northern capital.
To start the night off right, we’re led up a set of narrow iron steps that wind their way up to the open air hotel bar, which resembles an architect’s dream treehouse, to sip on some of the best vodka mojitos of my life—and trust me, I’m an experienced professional.

STYLE MAP: Robber

Story by Justine Iaboni. Photography by Joseph Vocics.

ROBBER (863 Queen St. W., 647-351-0724, robberstore.wordpress.com)

Shopping on Queen West one Sunday while trying to avoid the pending thunderstorm, I was relieved to walk into the sunny breath of fresh air that is Robber. The simple white-washed walls and minimal decor made all the pretty pastels and flowing dresses feel like lovely harbingers of spring. It’s no wonder that the duo from Vancouver, Erin Hall and Robin de Pelham, opened this boutique so they could bring a little west coast cool to this east coast kind of town.

Erin showed me around the store as we chit chatted about everything from the perfect T-shirt to the burgeoning population of savvy shoppers looking precisely for the class of pieces they carry, like the light, flowing blouses from Dace and the bright polka dot patterned jumpers from Karen Walker.

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LETTER FROM…Hoi An, Vietnam

Beside the river in Hoi An. Story and photography by Jordan Porter, a Toronto fashion writer who is on a year-long trip around the world.

Once you’ve been to Hoi An it will pain you to shop retail ever again. A UNESCO heritage town on the Vietnam coast, Hoi An is the cloth capital of Vietnam and best known for its rows upon rows of custom clothiers. On a recent three-day stay with my boyfriend we popped into To To Boutique armed with Net-a-Porter images and $100 each to our names. We left with two fully-lined and initialed twill cotton blazers (for him), a slim black linen pant suit and dress shirt (pour moi), and money to spare in the pockets of our new bespoke britches.

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LETTER FROM…Hanoi

Story and photography by Jordan Porter.

High Tea at The Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi

I am a city girl. I can rough it, no doubt, but there’s nothing that I love more than a day of shopping, eating and lounging in the lap of luxury. So, in a city where the majority of food is cooked—and eaten—on the street, and the shopkeepers peddle Prado and Vuittan, an afternoon at the grand Sofitel Metropole for a tea for two is a true treat.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some of the best meals of my life on those streets, but making the move from a pint-size plastic stool that barely fits a cheek (the Vietnamese are a mini bunch, so much so that at 110 pounds I’ve actually been called “big girl”) to plush lounge chairs, from chopsticks that are cleaned in a bucket to fancy French silverware, from my ritual après feast finger lick to crisp white linen napkins, well, the idea is music to my ears.

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